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Abū al-Faraj al-Maghribī

(616 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq
Abū al-Faraj al-Maghribī, Muḥammad b. Jaʿfar b. Muḥammad (d. 478/1085) was the last member of the al-Maghribī family of any fame and a vizier of the Fāṭimid caliph, al-Mustanṣir. There are few details in the sources on either his birth or his life. His forebear, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī, was one of those killed on the orders of the Fāṭimid caliph, al-Ḥākim in 400/1010. According to Ibn al-Ṣayrafī (pp. 47–48), he went and lived for a while in the Maghrib, and then returned to Egypt to ¶ work in the service of al-Nāṣir al-Ḥasan Ibn ʿAlī al-Yāzūrī, who was then the vizier of al-Mustanṣir. T…

Aḥmad b. Abī Duʾād al-Ibādī

(2,367 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Aḥmad b. Abī Duʾād al-Ibādī, Abū ʿAbd Allāh (ca. 160–Muḥarram 240/777–June 854), was a well-known Muʿtazilī jurist and judge, and the initiator of the miḥna (literally, ‘ordeal’ or inquisition) process in the first period of the reign of the ʿAbbāsids. As his lineage shows, he came from the large tribe of Ibād. His father’s name is said to have been Faraj or Duʿmā, but according to one of his descendants, his name was identical with his kunya, that is, Abū Duʾād b. Jarīr (al-Khaṭīb, 4/141, 142; cf. al-Dhahabī, Siyar, 11/169, where Ḥarīz is a corruption of Jarīr). Aḥmad’s family are…

Bilāl al-Ḥabashī

(1,848 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Khaleeli, Alexander
Bilāl al-Ḥabashī was one of the first people to accept Islam, the first muʾadhdhin (q.v. adhān), and a servant and prominent Companion of the Prophet. There is no information about his life before Islam, except that some sources say that he was a descendant of the Banū Jumaḥ, without mentioning his father, and that his mother, Ḥumāma (sometimes misspelt as Jumāma) was one of their slaves. Other sources refer to him as Bilāl b. Rabāḥ, claiming that his father was an Abyssinian captive. Bilāl is also sometimes referred to by his mother’s name as Bilāl b. Ḥumāma. Bilāl’s kunya is also a matter …

Al-Afḍal Kutayfāt

(1,200 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Al-Afḍal Kutayfāt, Abū ʿAlī Aḥmad (d. 526/1131), was a Fāṭimid vizier and effective ruler of Fāṭimid Egypt for a brief period. He was the son of al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī (q.v.) and the grandson of Badr al-Jamālī, who were both distinguished Fāṭimid viziers and ‘commanders of the armies’ (sing. amīr al-juyūsh). There is little information regarding his life prior to his appointment as vizier. Historians writing about the vizierate of his father, Abū al-Qāsim Shāhinshāh (better known as al-Afḍal), the military expedition of his sons to Palestine…

Al-Āmir bi-Aḥkām Allāh

(1,180 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Al-Āmir bi-Aḥkām Allāh, Abū ʿAlī Manṣūr b. Abī al-Qāsim Aḥmad al-Mustaʿlī bi’llāh (r. 495–524/1101–1130) was the tenth Fāṭimid caliph. He was born in Cairo on Tuesday 13 Muḥarram 490/31 December 1097 and was only five years old when his father died (495/1101). Al-Mustaʿlī’s vizier al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī (q.v.) placed him on the throne ¶ with the title of al-Āmir bi-Aḥkām Allāh and he himself took charge of running the affairs of the state. At that time the Crusaders, who had already captured Jerusalem in 492/1099, went on to seize many of the towns and fortresses …


(2,277 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Esots, Janis
(Barzawayh), the court physician of the Sāsānid emperor Khusraw I (Anūshīrwān) (r. 531–579 ce), compiler of Kalīla wa Dimna, and the probable author of the Pahlavi translation of the Pañcatantra (which forms part of Kalīla wa Dimna). In Middle Persian, his name was spelt Burzōy (a compound of Burz (‘high’, ‘lofty’) with the suffix – ōy) and in old Persian, Brz-auya. It is generally agreed that it is a ‘hypocoristic name’, possibly a shortened version of Burzmihr (Gignoux, 64–65; Blois, 48–50). Our information about Burzūya, in particular his journey to India, comes from an a…

Bayt al-Māl

(6,757 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Gholami, Rahim
Bayt al-Māl, a term historically used for the treasury of the Muslim State, whose assets included all existing and potential revenues of the state, and which was administered by the Muslim ruler or governor of the time. It also refers to the place where these revenues and liquid assets are held. The assets of the bayt al-māl are disbursed ¶ on the welfare and interest of the Muslim community as a whole (Ibn Jamāʿa, 106; Ṣafwat, 1/441; cf. al-Dhahabī, 2/322; see also Aghnides, 423). The first records pertaining to the collection and expenditure of alms ( zakāt) according to Qurʾānic law, da…

Al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī

(2,729 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Al-Afḍal b. Badr al-Jamālī, Abū al-Qāsim Shāhinshāh (458–515/1066–1121) was Fāṭimid vizier to three successive caliphs from 487/1094 until he was killed in 515/1121. Born in ʿAkkā (Acre) in 458/1066, he moved to Egypt in 466/1074 with his father Badr al-Jamālī who came to hold the all-important positions of commander of the armies ( amīr al-juyūsh) and the vizierate. Indeed Badr acquired dictatorial authority in Fāṭimid Egypt. According to a letter written by the Fāṭimid caliph al-Mustanṣir to Badr al-Jamālī in 477/1084, al-Afḍal became deputy vizi…

Abū Muslim-nāmah

(2,383 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Abū Muslim-nāmah is an epic story depicting the life and personality of Abū Muslim al-Khurāsānī, written in many languages including Persian, Eastern Turkish and Arabic. The story of how Abū Muslim defied Abū Jaʿfar al-Manṣūr and the treacherous manner in which he was killed is one that still excites strong passions among Persians. The efforts of the caliphs to belittle the role of this exceptional commander in the overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty, together with the derogatory remarks made about him by Arab authors, tur…

ʿAbd Allāh b. Muʿāwiya

(4,167 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Lahouti, Hassan
ʿAbd Allāh b. Muʿāwiya b. ʿAbd Allāh b. Jaʿfar b. Abī Ṭālib (d. 130/747 or 748), a member of the Hāshimid clan who claimed both the imamate and the caliphate for himself, and rose up in revolt against the Umayyads. The origins of some branches of the ghulāt (extremists) and the ḥulūliyya (incarnationists) are traced back to him. In order to have a clear picture of the later period of the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus, one needs to present a precise and thorough historical account of all the movements and revolts, mostly ʿAlid, in the Marwānid dominions. The triumph of the ʿAbbāsid mission ( daʿwa)…


(2,714 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Al-Ālūsī, a Baghdad family that produced distinguished scholars in jurisprudence ( fiqh), Qurʾānic exegesis ( tafsīr) and literature in the 13th/19th and 14th/early 20th century. One of his ancestors fled Baghdad in 7th/13th century at the time of Hulāgū’s invasion and moved to Ālūs, where his descendants stayed until the 11th/17th century before returning to Baghdad (al-Atharī, 7–8). The following, in chronological order, are the best-known members of the family: 1. Sayyid Maḥmūd, who was a descendant of Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī on his father’s side and of Ḥasan b. ʿAlī th…


(15,516 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Gholami, Rahim
Barmakids, the title of the most famous family of dīwān-sālār (chancellors) and viziers during the ʿAbbāsid period. They were actively involved in the political history of Islam between 132/750 and 187/803. Etymology of the Name Barmak According to most sources the word ‘Barmak’ designated the office of hereditary high priest of the temple of Nawbahār near Balkh, a temple of uncertain origins but which was probably Buddhist and/or Zoroastrian at various times (al-Kirmānī, ‘Taʾrīkh’, 3–4; Bartol’d, Sochineniia, 669; al-Masʿūdī, Murūj, 2/228; for the etymology and religious …


(12,650 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Esots, Janis
( al-maqūlāt, the Arabic term used by Isḥāq b. Ḥunayn to translate the Greek Κατηγορίαι, Arabicised as Qāṭīghūriyās), a work on the classification of predicates, which was the title of the first book in a group of writings by Aristotle known collectively as the Organon. The word was also used by Muslim authors as a title for works on the same subject, i.e. the classification of the predicates of an existent, which must be known in order for its quiddity to be understood. According to Aristotle, categories are both the ways we think about …


(3,191 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Qasemi, Jawad
Aḥdāth, plural of ḥadath, is a term with several different meanings: young men, temporal events, calamities and innovations. In the history of Islam it has taken on a range of technical meanings, although how some of these applied in particular circumstances is not entirely clear. The historical sources indicate that the term appears to have been introduced during the time of the second caliph, ʿUmar, when a position was created with the title of commander or amīr of the aḥdāth. The holder of the post was required to investigate affairs that were deemed to be innovations o…

Abū Naṣr Manṣūr b. ʿIrāq

(2,425 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Rahimi, Simin
Abū Naṣr Manṣūr b. ʿIrāq was a famous Persian mathematician and astronomer of the 4th/10th and 5th/11th century and a member of either the Āl ʿIrāq or the ancient Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty. Even though Abū Naṣr was quite well known both in his time and later because ¶ of his mathematical work, biographers and historians rarely mentioned him. The little information available on him is based on the scattered and often contradictory reports that Niẓāmī ʿArūḍī, al-Subkī and Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī give about him in their works. Abū Naṣr was the son of ʿAlī, who was the brother of the Khwārazm-Shāh Muḥam…


(9,729 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Negahban, Farzin
Abraham (Ar. Ibrāhīm) al-Khalīl (the ‘intimate friend’ of God) was the second arch-prophet ( ūlū al-ʿazm) and held to be the ancestor of the Arabs through Ishmael (Ismāʿīl) and the Jews through Isaac (Isḥāq). The variants of the name of Abraham in both religious and secular sources, with elongation, assimilation or displacement of both letters and syllables, may be evidence for its prominence in the area of the Fertile Crescent. The form ‘Abram’, given in the first instance in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, 11:26), as well as the na…


(1,927 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Khaleeli, Alexander
, an administrative term that was used in the central and eastern Islamic lands, especially Persia. It is a compound Persian word consisting of two parts: bunah (q.v.) meaning ‘property’ or ‘wealth’, and dār, a suffix denoting ownership or custody. In Middle-Persian (Pahlawī) texts, the first part is used in the form bunak/bunag with the meaning of ‘baggage’, ‘abode’ or ‘camp’ (Nyberg, 2/50; MacKenzie, 20). The compound bundār is not generally found in pre-Islamic Persian literature (cf. Tārīkh-i Sīstān, 302, marginal notes), although according to one account, at the adve…

Amīr al-Muʾminīn

(1,982 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Waley, Muhammad Isa
Amīr al-Muʾminīn (‘prince’, ‘commander’ or ‘leader’ of the ‘believers’), a title generally denoting the head of the Muslim community. This title, first bestowed on those caliphs who were the immediate successors of the Prophet Muḥammad, was later used more widely and applied honorifically to many Muslim rulers of various times and regions. Although not all of them in fact enjoyed great political power or high religious status, the link between their title and the office of caliph lent it much prestige (see e.g. Imamuddin, 22). A most important use of this title is with ref-¶ erence to ʿAl…

The Amīr Kiyāʾids of Gīlān

(7,383 words)

Author(s): Sajjadi, Sadeq | Melvin-Koushki, Matthew
The Amīr Kiyāʾids of Gīlān, this line of sayyids, also known as the Kār Kiyāʾids, ruled Gīlān for more than 300 years following the death of their eponymous founder Sayyid Amīr Kiyā in 763/1362. They held in particular the territory to the east of the Sapīd-rūd (i.e., Biyahpīsh in eastern Gīlān). One of the ancestors of Sayyid Amīr Kiyā (d. 763/1362), was Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan (Ḥusayn) b. Aḥmad al-ʿAqīqī al-Kawkabī, who ruled Zanjān, Abhar and Qazwīn in the time of al-Ḥasan b. Zayd (251/865–253/867) (al…


(5,379 words)

Author(s): Mehrvash, Farhang | Negahban, Farzin | Sajjadi, Sadeq
(Arabic: ukhuwwa, Persian: barādarī), a widespread concept in Islam used initially with reference to blood brothers, which later acquired broader subsidiary implications in Islamic cultures. From a sociological point of view, both the lifestyle of pre-Islamic Arabs and the severe scarcity of the means of livelihood in the Arab peninsula served to bond clan members and thus the whole tribe together in their struggle for survival. The overarching exigencies of family in Arabia prior to the advent of Islam generated two co…
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